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Hemp: Using the Sense, or Cents, or Scents God Gave Us Part II

Seriously---Kiowa County---- what are you waiting for?  Don’t you want in the game?

Hemp- Part IIHemp represents new ways to create jobs and wealth in Kiowa County and across rural Colorado.  

Currently, we continue to face a crisis in rural Colorado as signs of decay and towns dying are all around us.  As we reported a few months back, the school populations across the entire rural area of Colorado have dropped substantially to the point that our state leaders are starting to bring up the topic, ever more often, of consolidation with larger schools.  Luckily, we dodged that possibility for at least another budgetary period when Colorado recently passed SB 17-267 (Sustainability of Rural Colorado Bill) that will send monies to rural education, health care, and transportation.  But how long will that last if we are an economy leaking like a sieve that cannot produce enough wealth and jobs to keep rural Colorado healthy and prosperous?  Is the state, with SB 17-267, investing in a dead horse?

To answer that question, we better know where our jobs come from and how our economy is generated?  If we look at statistics from the Colorado Department of Economic Development, it is obvious that the most income wealth is created in the Food & Agricultural Industry in Southeast Colorado where 44% of the population are employed in the industry.  Here is the breakdown of the top six industries in the southeastern region of Colorado including the counties of Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Crowley,
Kiowa, Otero, and Prowers; how many people work in each industry, what percent of workers does it represent, and what is the average yearly income in each:

INDUSTRY

NO. EMPLOYED

% OF EMPLOYEES

AVG. ANNUAL WAGES

Food & Agriculture

4,800

44%

$28,300

Health & Wellness

2,000

18%

$35,700

Transportation & Logistics

1,300

12%

$42,800

Financial Services

1,200

11%

$45,600

Advanced Manufacturing

900

 8%

$42,500

Energy & Natural Resources

 800

 7%

$52,000


 
There are other industries where people work, but these are the top industries that represent the most economic wealth in the region.  No surprise there, the largest industry, by far, is the Food & Agriculture industry where the lowest average annual wages sit.   Not a good combination to economically jumpstart a region.  But what if we could use hemp to jumpstart every single industry on this chart, especially Food & Agriculture?  What if hemp, alone, helped us go where we never dreamed possible.  To not only good jobs, but growth among the industries and in the towns.

Consider that for years, Eads and the towns and county economic development groups in the region worked toward bringing some industry in.  Consistently, we would answer the call to the questions of what was needed to stimulate economic growth and development as summarized, “We need jobs.”  “We need a big company to move in here.” 

Well folks, hemp can mean new jobs and hemp can mean we grow our own companies.  We don’t need to ‘sell the farm’ so some big corporation will move in; we can keep the farm and use it to grow ourselves.

As mentioned in last week’s article, Hemp is not marijuana because it does not have the high levels of THC that marijuana contains.  Hemp has gotten an unfair bad label as an illegal drug because it was categorized by the federal government as simply cannabis, and if it was cannabis then it was illegal.  This all-encompassing label virtually made hemp unknown for the last 3 generations in America where citizens like you and me didn’t have a clue about what hemp was or wasn’t.  But, now, thanks to researchers, the legal profession, and the Internet, Hemp (and its many amazing economic possibilities) has been cleared by the federal government.  The main distinction is hemp is hemp if it contains 0.3% THC or less.  Today’s certified seeds ensure that hemp is hemp.

With this being said, basically, that hemp is legal to grow, process, ship, and use in its multitude of forms, it is time to move on from this excuse and look to the ideas centered around hemp.  It’s time to look at the industries in Southeastern Colorado, already established, and see how hemp can enhance them economically.  It can be done.

First, look at the table of our top six industries in Southeastern Colorado and see the products and uses that hemp can become a part of in each.  Then ask yourself, would those current figures in gray perhaps grow in a huge way in the years to come if
hemp were embraced by the populous?

INDUSTRY

NO. EMPLOYED

% OF EMPLOYEES

AVG. ANNUAL WAGES

PRODUCTS & USES FOR HEMP

Food & Agriculture

4,800

44%

$28,300

Crop sales, seed sales, animal feed, animal bedding, food supplement, cattle food cakes, fiber sales, flower sales

Health & Wellness

2,000

18%

$35,700

Medicinal CBD for wellness, medical benefits of the plant, dietary supplements, new products/ways to help patients, create a wellness industry instead of an illness industry

Transportation & Logistics

1,300

12%

$42,800

Open the railroad to ship hemp products, trucking, highways, shipping & storage

Financial Services

1,200

11%

$45,600

This is obvious; more businesses, more borrowing, more wealth, more jobs needed to finance it

Advanced Manufacturing

 900

8%

$42,500

Hemp fiber processing; bring in area crops and process fiber in an array of products for textiles, construction materials; process the seeds for food, process the fiber for cattle consumption, produce CBD oil, produce other products from CBD oil like lotions and salves

Energy & Natural Resources

 800

7%

$52,000

Produce biodiesel fuel (1 acre produces 2 barrels of oil)


Next week we will start to examine each of the industries individually and describe how southeastern Colorado, and specifically Kiowa County, can get off the bench and into the hemp game.  First up, we will examine hemp and how it could revolutionize our food and agriculture industry.
 
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